Fine Gael confident Team Enda can prove polls wrong
Published 04/08/2010 | 05:00
FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny is sticking to his "Team Enda" strategy after the latest opinion poll showed he faces an uphill battle to win over voters.
Just two months after he survived a leadership challenge, just 27pc of voters say they want him to be Taoiseach, compared to 33pc for Labour leader Eamon Gilmore.
But Mr Kenny is said to be sticking to his "Team Enda" strategy to increase support for Fine Gael by emphasising the strength of his frontbench rather than his own personality.
A Fine Gael source said he had shown his ability to harness talent in the party and would continue to do so with his new frontbench.
But he faces a major challenge to heal the party rift created by the failed challenge to his leadership from former finance spokesman Richard Bruton.
Fine Gael Meath East TD Shane McEntee yesterday called for party unity in the wake of a Red C opinion poll carried out for the Irish Sun.
"We have the numbers on the ground. If we get in behind Enda, we'll get the seats we want," he said.
According to one Fine Gael backbencher, Mr Kenny has not been in contact with him since the failed heave, and he is not expected to start the work of rebuilding relations in the party until its annual think-in next month.
But Mr Kenny does have the experience of knowing what it is like to be out in the cold -- because he was dropped from the Fine Gael frontbench in 2001 after he lost out in the leadership contest to Michael Noonan.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen is also languishing in the polls, with just 18pc of voters saying they want him to continue as Taoiseach after the next General Election.
But Junior Minister for Fisheries and Forestry Sean Connick said it was difficult to be popular, given the decisions the Government had to take at the moment.
"We have a job to do and we have to get on with it," he said.
Mr Connick said he would love to see an opinion poll on who people wanted as their Finance Minister -- Brian Lenihan, Michael Noonan or Joan Burton.
"I think that Brian Lenihan would win hands down," he said.